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Fawn-a over Flora

Author: Markc65 from Burbank, CA
25 November 2007

One of the few good cartoons to come from the Screen Gems/Columbia Studio. The studio had a spotty track record in regards to producing funny theatrical animated shorts in the 40's -- in contrast to Warner Bros. and MGM, which made some of the greatest. In fact, this cartoon was written by two veterans of the Warner Bros. cartoon studio, Dave Monahan and Cal Howard. (It was also produced by two ex-employees from WB, Ray Katz and Henry Binder.)

The cartoon is a witty and clever parody of the "film noir" crime melodramas. The dog narrates the cartoon about his infatuation with a Siamese cat named Flora and how it lead to his downfall. The narration alone would lead one to believe the infatuation is about love, but the actual action in the cartoon contradicts this -- the dog is really trying to harm the cat (ala Tom & Jerry style) in typical cartoon fashion (with Flora always outsmarting the dog). It is the incongruent aspect of these two elements that produces most of the humor in the cartoon. A difficult conceit to pull off, but it works marvelously here.

The director was Alex Lovy, who also had a spotty track record for most of his career. He was a director at Lantz studios in the early 40's, and most of those cartoons, while containing some of the anarchic spirit of the Warner Looney Tunes, were rather crude and ugly in design and animation. Flora contains some of Lovy's faults as a director, too. The character design of the dog is uninspired and a little clunky (especially his round ears which make him look almost like a bear in some shots) and the animation is routine and pedestrian. Not that the animation is bad (especially compared with cartoons today) but it's surprising how literal it is at times, considering the heights the other Hollywood animation studios were reaching at the same time. However these problems don't distract from the good qualities of the cartoon, like it's novelty and humor.

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